The Bible is the most successful book ever written. For well over 1,000 years it has been the most widely circulated of all written works, and it has affected the culture of more people than any other book has done. It has influenced (and helped to create) language, it is central to the history of literacy and literature, and it has had more importance for the history of Western art than any other text. The Book. A History of the Bible tells the story of this extraordinary success, tracing the Bible's publication in endless forms and numerous languages. Before 1455 all books were laboriously written by hand, and the first seven chapters of this book deal with manuscript Bibles, which include some of the most magnificent books ever produced. The first chapter deals with the achievement of Saint Jerome, whose Latin translation - the Vulgate - first gave the Bible the definitive form it has retained ever since. Chapter 2 then looks back to the separate history of the Bible in its original languages of Hebrew and Greek, after which the narrative returns to document the gradual triumph of the Latin Vulgate, the magnificent giant Bibles of the early Middle Ages, the Bible with its monastic commentaries, the crucial development of the portable Bible in the thirteenth century, and the vogue for splendid Bible picture books. Chapter 7 tell the story of the famous Wycliffite English Bibles, once condemned as heretical and now highly prized. The invention of printing was a turning point, and a whole chapter is devoted to Gutenberg and the first printed book - the celebrated 42-line Bible. The narrative then leads on the humanist scholars, Martin Luther and the Reformation, the Lutheran Bible and the Protestant-led wave of translations of the Bible into other modern languages, the development of a book publishing industry, and the extraordinary efforts of missionary societies to translate the Bible into every known language in the World. The last chapter takes the story right back to the beginning, and chronicles the discoveries by modern scholars and archaeologists - principally papyrus fragments from the Egyptian desert and the Dead Sea Scrolls - that have dramatically increased our knowledge of the origins of both Old and New Testaments. Christopher de Hamel writes with the storytelling gift of the good historian. He is also a scrupulous scholar. Without being either evangelical or polemical, his precise, lucid and highly informative narrative is solidly based on documentary evidence. The result is a fascinating and deeply absorbing narrative that will also have a lasting value as a work of scholarship. Original, authoritative and highly readable, this book is a genuine publishing first on a subject of the utmost importance.